“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling announced that she is releasing a new children’s book, “The Ickabog.” It marks her first novel aimed toward younger readers that doesn’t take place at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The first two chapters of the fairytale “The Ickabog” are available online for free, with daily installments being released between May 26 and July 10. The full book will be available in November.
Rowling started writing “The Ickabog” while she was still working on “Harry Potter” more than a decade ago, but kept it only for her own children, until now. According to Rowling’s website, the book was written for children aged 7 to 9 to read to themselves, and for parents to read aloud to their children.
“A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting ‘The Ickabog’ down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again,” Rowling said on her website.
Unlike her spinoff stories “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” or “Quidditch Through the Ages,” “The Ickabog” has no relation to the “Harry Potter” series. And while plot details about “The Ickabog” were scarce, the author said its thematic elements are timeless.
“‘The Ickabog’ is a story about truth and the abuse of power,” Rowling said. “To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country.”
Rowling also started an illustration contest for young kids to submit drawings for the book. Artists can enter their illustrations starting on May 29.
“Having decided to publish, I thought how wonderful it would be if children in lockdown, or otherwise needing distraction during the strange and difficult time we’re passing through, illustrated the story for me. There will be suggestions about the illustrations we might need for each chapter on ‘The Ickabog’ website, but nobody should feel constrained by these ideas. I want to see imaginations run wild! Creativity, inventiveness and effort are the most important things: we aren’t necessarily looking for the most technical skill!” said Rowling.
All of Rowling’s author royalties will go towards those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with details to be revealed later in the year.